Island in the City: No Ride

November 21, 2016

 

The thing about taking a photo of this year's first snow is that I couldn't capture how quiet it all really was, how a temperature actually has sound, how that sound has the ability to slow everything it touches. 

 

One of my neighbors came out with his GoPro and he started walking up and down the sidewalk. When he passed me I yelled, "First snow of the year bruh!" And he said, "Cheers!" And we had a quick conversation about being cold and not from Denver. He asked if I was used to this cold, and I told him hell fuck nah, that I was from Guam. He laughed, shook his head, and told me he moved here from California, but ethnically and culturally he grew up Cuban. And we laughed even harder, two islanders shivering in the falling snow, wondering how the hell we'd make it through the rest of winter. We shook hands and ensured that if either of us needed anything, to simply knock on each other's front door, the way islanders always offer hospitality. After our conversation, I went to get my bike from the alley and just shook my head at the fact that I got jacked, again. At least this time only half my bike got stolen. At least this time they left the frame and front wheel. I carried my bike up to my apartment, laughing the whole way up. 

 

And as I gripped the cold aluminum frame, I began to miss my childhood. I remembered back when I was a kid, my first bike was stolen from right outside my front door. It was my mom's Christmas gift to me, this nice shiny dark red single-speed machine. Of course it got jacked. But all my friends were riled up and we strolled the entire neighborhood looking for whoever might have taken it. We came up empty handed, still pissed, still saying things like if we find those motherfuckers we're gonna make them eat your tires. We never did get to shove my tires down anyone's throat, but I did end up getting a new skateboard!

 

The snow, my stolen bike, and seeing how I reacted to it all made me realize that I'm able to stay level-headed even through some seriously bad situations because of my upbringing as a child, because even as a kid I was already exposed to a lot of loss and a lot of struggle. So here's a piece to that, a poem to celebrate where I come from as I walk through the coming winter, to remind myself that there'll always be a fire in me, despite the coming snow:

 

 

 

I learned to fight here,

for more than pride or gain;

for the moms who woke up early enough

to make all three jobs;

Raised in the gritty clash

between cement and jungle,the conflict

between kids who wanted everything

and parents who could barely afford anything.

This is for the thieves

who taught me Christmas meant grab your bat

and call the boys who weren't scared

to knock on someone's front door,
to get back what our moms

got up early for. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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